This time of year, I always find myself reflecting on the past year. What inspired me? What am I grateful for? What do I want do more of? And my biggest WTF moments?
First, what I am Grateful for:
I am grateful for many things, such health, family and friends. I am grateful for these every year, but this year I am also immensely grateful for the 15 second videos written, filmed, produced and shared starring Egor Shalvarov and posted on Dance Comp Review’s social medias. These little vids show raw and overwhelming creative talent that will make you laugh until you hurt. For me, they are without a question the biggest hit of 2015.
The subtle and not so subtle differences between Standard and Latin dancer, Ballroom dancers and ordinary people are so on point it is actually astounding. In a few seconds, the videos show the things ballroom dancers do, think, believe and want. It is like Egor went inside your own head, pulled out those passing thoughts and everyday experiences, and made them hilarious. Egor takes the cake as the Sienfeld of Ballroom for an Instagram generation. The gratitude comes because whatever your day has been until that point, those vids will make it better. These are a few of my personal favorites:
Standard vs Latin dancer in the shower.
The reaction of a ballroom lady when her guy cancels a practice.
Ordinary people vs ballroom dancers on an escalator.
Standard vs Latin dancer in the car.
All I can say is Thank You!!!
Next, what Inspired me:
It is actually not a what, but a who. Carlynn Reed. Carlynn and her instructor/partner Carlos Zapata are the World Pro-Am Theatre Arts Champions as titled at the Ohio Star Ball. That is great, but there are many champions. What inspires is that Carlynn has rightly earned the description of being fearless. Her routines have some of the most death defying lifts and tricks that any one could ever image. She also pushes herself to the limit for all the right reasons. There is also the “by the way” information point that Carlynn became the World Theater Arts Champion, an all ages category, at age 71 after only 3 years of training. No excuses, just determination, hard work and a beautiful heart.
The relationship between Carlynn and Carlos is also clearly magical. Truly accomplished Pro-Am dancers can never become accomplished without dedicated, expert and driven instructors; and mutual respect, mutual ambition and mutual admiration in the relationship. At every opportunity, Carlynn credits Carlos and his professional partner Dora with her success. The video below shows the strength of their relationship very clearly, with Carlos noting that Carlynn pushes him as much as he pushes her.
Carlynn is also a driving force and actress in imaginescape.ca which supports people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, through improvisational musical theater. She is very inspirational indeed.
Now, my WTF moment:
This year like every year had its share of interesting WTF moments, but the ones that take the cake for me are the little comments by WDC about WDSF and the Olympic effort, and numerous stories of blacklisting of dancers by both organizations. Seriously?!… WTF???!!! Is that what the parent dancesport organizations have time and energy to do? The convoluted and ridiculous arguments made by WDC regarding the Olympic effort are just embarrassing. It’s clear that their main problem is that the effort is being led by their rival. Any thought of dancers or the industry overall seems lost. Do they really think dancers cannot see true intention clearly in their comments? It would be better for them to just keep quiet and not insult the intelligence of the people they are supposed to support.
On top of this, there are always a number of past and recent stories of dancers being banned or held back by both organizations because the dancer flirted with the other group. This is equally if not more disgusting! There are many professional organizations out there with the purpose of actually helping those they represent. Other independent professionals have programs through their professional organizations, that often includes income support to members who are ill or injured. Yes, people can buy medical coverage, but if you cannot work for a while, income insurance through a professional organization can help you pay the non-medical bills such as food and housing that everyone has. Right now, dancers fundraise for each other during tragedy, but what happens if you are off for a long time or off because of something that is not tragic but still prevents you from working? What do you do then? Where are the organizations? While it is true that dancers would need to contribute to any insurance through their fees, but through a professional organization it would be much cheaper than doing it on your own. Some other professional organizations also offer access to professional counselling, financial advice and other supports through a 1-800 telephone line for members in need at no cost. Perhaps the WDC, WDSF and their affiliates do provide some support to dancers in some ways. My argument is that there are effective and proven ways to manage the professional fees differently for the greater benefit of members. Critical things that are currently missing for dancers, and will most likely stay missing, if there is too much time and energy being spent by associations trying to tear each other appart.
Finally, what I Want to do More of:
I definitely want to seek opportunities to make new dancers feel more at ease. It might be OK to be kind and encouraging when someone crosses your path, but the thing that really makes a difference is when you go out of your way to cross theirs.
I remember my first in-studio competition several years ago: Even though I am pretty confident in my own non-ballroom life and I was told what would happen, I still felt pretty lost, nervous, and very much out of place. A few minutes after I arrived, a lovely lady whom I had never even seen before much less met, walked straight across a huge floor, introduced herself with a huge smile and said “Come over here and sit with the girls”. That was pretty much it… My uneasiness went away, my confidence soared, my dancing that day was surely better than it would have been, and my view of ballroom from that day forward was even better than than before. More new dancers could use that small (yet huge) and unexpected support. For sure I will go out of my way to make that happen, and not just when someone happens to cross my path.
The most perfect footnote on this story is that years later, that same lovely lady became a professional coach and now inspires, challenges and motivates even more people than she did before. She is the kind, wise, fun-loving and indomitable! She is Claudine Pereira a.k.a ThePinkCoach. It could not be more perfect.